Friday, June 8, 2012

A little fresh air and lion's teeth

Today is the fourth day in row that it has been raining and cold, I am not complaining...I love the sound of rain drumming down onto the earth. I love the cosiness of a fire and the fact that the weather makes us want to stay indoors and take things a little slower. Last week we were blessed with some sunshine, and despite the nip in the air and the kids and I ventured out with a friend and took advantage of the "good" weather.

Not far from where we live is what used to be a forest. A large pine forest that holds many memories of good times with family and friends. Over the last while, the forest has been felled to make way for Fynbos.

We decided to do a circuit of the "forest".  
On the perimeter we passed a flower farm where the workers were chatting away happily as they were planting. In the long grass on the other side of the path we spotted a Blue Crane, our national bird. The views of Table Mountain against the clear sky were magnificent. In the distance, feathery plumes of Pampas Grass glistened in the sunlight.

Along the way we discovered the cutest little wooden seats carved from pines that had been felled. To the children's delight there was also a wooden swing. A patch of clovers was searched for a lucky four leafed clover. Frogs were belting out their songs as we passed the stream.

Wild Dagga or Lion's Tail displayed their brilliant orange blooms. In what is left of the pine plantation, squirrels chased each other in giddy circles around tree trunks. The scent of pine permeated the air, a scent I will never grow tired of. In contrast to the evergreen pines, some trees displayed the last of their autumn glory. I am sure they are now bare after the recent stormy weather.

Beside the path, Dandelions displayed their brilliant yellow blooms and perfectly rounded and fluffy seed bearing orbs. I had seen a section on them in our Handbook of Nature Study so we picked a few to bring home....

We learned so much about this delightful "weed" named after lion's teeth (dents-de-lion in French), due to the shape of the leaves. We learned how the yellow flowers don't open on dark and gloomy days. We studied the flowers, seed heads and parachute type seeds, and marvelled at the blossom bald seed head with it's mosaic pattern. We learned how the seed head is concave before releasing the seeds and later becomes convex and in doing so, the seeds embedded in it are liberated. It was most interesting to learn how this plant is able to conquer us and take possession of our land.

Once again we referred to my Companion Planting book and learned so much more regarding this little wonder which builds up the soil. We learned that the vitamin and mineral rich leaves could be eaten and each had a taste....a little bitter but it could be disguised in a salad, sprinkled over a soup or added to a stir fry. Apparently it makes a brilliant compost too, so from now on it shall be added to the compost heap.
The children made some pencil drawings for their nature journals.
My once reluctant youngest seems to be enjoying our nature studies more. Excitedly, he called me out to the garden the next day to show me his dandelion discoveries! 

I love the way this unplanned learning took place and look forward to visiting the area again and perhaps spending some time observing some of the other wonders of nature in that area. 


  1. Thanks so much for your glimpse into your S African nature study with the OHC.

  2. Pleasure Barb, we are SO inspired by you!

  3. We did a Dandelion study in May and also were thrilled to find out so much about this 'weed'. We made a great Dandelion Bread from the flower petals - I'm sure K would enjoy making a loaf!

  4. ooh yes, Shirl that sounds like fun, will mail you for that recipe too!

  5. What a great nature study! And I love the glimse into your life there.

  6. Thanks for visiting Cristy!

  7. Thanks to Barb's "Outdoor Hour" ... I've just discovered you! I look forward to learning about the ecology of South Africa through you. :)

  8. So glad you stopped by Eva Varga


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